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“Campuses are too isolated”

Maxim: Rather a sober building than an expensive and architectonic one

The construction of the university campus in Randwyck has come to a halt, because housing association Servatius, which financed and planned the campus, has financially hit stormy weather. Now, some questions arise as to why it was necessary in any event to ask a famous architect like Calatrava to design the campus. Why all the fuss about an architectonic tour de force? Wouldn’t it be a better solution to build a sober building with affordable student rooms?

“I’ve said it for more than twenty years. First and foremost, students want safe, reasonably priced rooms with good sports facilities and places of entertainment nearby”, says Dutch Marion Hendriks, coordinator of the Kamerburo at Maastricht University. “And a very expensive building, clad with copper and surrounded by water, is not on their wish-list.” She is referring to an internet-based survey by Flycatcher in January 2008 in which more than 2000 UM students and 1400 Hogeschool Zuyd students answered several questions about student accomodation. “Originally, the plan was to create a building with a lot of student rooms, somewhere in Maastricht. Then Calatrava was asked to design something, and we all know the result.” According to Hendriks, the goal is twofold now. First, to supply student rooms, and second, to put Maastricht architecturally on the map.

Romanian-Hungarian student Petra Albu: “I study at the University College and living in the city centre is a big advantage. I wouldn’t trade my room for one in a beautiful designed campus in Randwyck. Before I came to Maastricht, I visited the University College in Utrecht. I had a bad feeling about the College campus over there. It’s too isolated and you run into the same people all day. No, I really preferred something different and I found it here.” Albu shares a kitchen and bathroom with three housemates.

Dutch Bryan Li, who is doing European Studies, agrees with Albu. “I think living near your faculty is very important. I can imagine that if you were studying health sciences or psychology in Randwyck, it would be a good thing to live there.” This is also what Dutch alum Lianne van Exel thinks. She studied European Studies, European Law and Public Policy and Human Development and will leave Maastricht in a few days. She had to wait for four years to get a studio at the Bassin, a beautiful old inland port in the Boschstraatkwartier. “It’s a difficult question. I don’t know exactly what kind of apartments will be built at the campus and how much they will cost. Maastricht University can create a distinct profile with Calatrava’s building, but students want a room that is functional. Who knows – maybe it will be a good alternative for international students who stay at the Guesthouse. I’ve heard some complaints about the rent there.”

 

Wendy Degens

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